cover image The Last Man

The Last Man

P.T. Deutermann. St. Martin’s, $26.99 (368p) ISBN 978-0-312-59945-4

Deutermann (The Firefly) ventures into the religious artifact genre with this slow-moving, mildly suspenseful stand-alone rooted in Israel’s Masada story. In 73 C.E., the Roman legions lay siege to the fortress of Masada, where the last of the Zealots in the Jewish revolt against Rome are holed up. The 960 men, women, and children in the fortress plan to die by their own hands rather than allow the Romans to kill them. After all are dead, the “Last Man,” Judah Sicarius, hides a great treasure and then kills himself. In the present day, American David Hall comes to Masada on a secret mission to find that treasure. Various side plots, including one involving an antinuclear group, complicate Hall’s quest. The author tries the reader’s patience by taking too long to get to the good stuff, i.e., the treasure, and the solution to all the additional mysteries and a final revelation do little to add heat. (May)